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A data base about Byzantine bookbinding

A data base about Byzantine bookbinding is a resource center on the study and description of Byzantine bindings.  There are  also  on the platform  Digitized manuscripts, pictures of bindings and Steps in the Fabrication of a Byzantine Binding and a bibliography .

To access the website of the project, click on

This site is addressed to a beginner public or to very interested persons of bindings and to the professional researchers who wish to carry out precise codicologic research.

The bibliographical details present here (or in construction) are carried out by several preserving specialists, philologists, or restorers.Informations on others Oriental bindings (Syriac bindings and Armenian bindings) will be available in a second time.For more information on the project you can consult the part “The Project” 

Website realized by Nathalie Casanova, Sturcture of bibliografical details by Dominique Grosdidier and François Vinourd

Byzantine bookbinding: The purpose and significance of its study

Byzantine bookbinding: The purpose and significance of its study


      From the time that the manuscript book in the Greek language had taken its form, namely the codex, which remains that of the modern book, the binding was an integral component. The codex consists of a series of double sheets, folded and inserted into each other to form quires. These are sewn together and the ensemble is attached to two rectangular pieces (the boards or covers), usually made of wood. The binding thus formed is then covered in leather (at times enriched with precious materials or metal plates). Generally, ornamentations based on geometric, plant-like or zoomorphic patterns are imprinted on the leather covering using irons.  The Byzantine artisans devised refined techniques for sewing and attaching the quires to the boards, which have many variations. The decorative motifs and their combinations are also numerous. The survey and comparison of these techniques and motifs has already allowed the cataloguing of bindings. When they are original, that is, contemporary with the copying of the books that they cover, in combination with other criteria, such as writing and ornamentation, bindings allow us to reconstruct their production in workshops for copying and/or binding. Possibly identifying even individual artisans, they can also put us on the path of the sponsors or the original owners. But the bindings, by virtue of their function, which is to protect the book while travelling, are at risk of being damaged or even destroyed.  This is why frequently over the centuries the codex donned different bindings.  These, in turn, can be grouped and identified, which enables us to follow the book in its transitions from one owner to another. In short, the study of the binding, one of the finest achievements of Byzantine craftsmanship provides interesting details on the origin and fate of the Greek manuscript book of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. 

Paul Canart 

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